This report examines the effectiveness of a Centralized Shelter Diversion program in the Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada between April 2019 and April 2021. The dataset consists of information gathered by a team of Shelter Diversion workers who had 2,643 interactions with 1,181 unique people as they sought access to shelter provided by the RAFT’s Youth Shelter, Southridge Community Church’s Adult Shelter, or the Boys and Girls Club of Niagara’s Nightlight Youth Shelter. The report plots the near-term pathway into homelessness and factors which affected our ability to effectively divert people from shelter to safe and appropriate alternative housing. It also includes a critique of prioritizing shelters as the first point of contact of people looking for housing support. Findings indicate that successful diversion is more likely when a person has never accessed a shelter before and has greater personal agency. The report also advances a theoretical premise for “Homeless Identity” that provides additional understanding of:
- How homelessness can be prolonged through exposure to the shelter system
- How this prolonged exposure contributes to people identifying as homeless, and
- The role Shelter Diversion can play in mitigating this process.